Archaeologists Discover an 18th-Century Plaque Commemorating the Departure of Jews from Lithuania to the Land of Israel

July 22 2019

Excavating the remains of the Great Synagogue in Vilnius (formerly Vilna), researchers made an unexpected discovery this summer, as Agence France-Presse reports:

The stone plaque was discovered in a cellar below . . . the Great Synagogue of Vilnius, [which was the city’s] major Jewish house of prayer before it was destroyed by [consecutive] Nazi and Soviet regimes. “In 1776 we went up with joy to our land (Erets Yisrael),” reads part of the inscription. It uses [a form of] the Hebrew word [la’alot, meaning to go up, as in the term] aliyah, referring to the immigration of Jews from the diaspora to the land of Israel. . . .

The Vilnius synagogue, dating from the 1630s, was the most important synagogue for Lithuania’s once-vibrant Jewish community. Last year, archaeologists announced they had discovered the synagogue’s bimah, the podium or platform from which the Torah is read. The plaque . . . was discovered later in a cellar beneath the bimah. . . .

The Nazis burned down the synagogue and the remains were later demolished by the Soviet regime that built a kindergarten, later turned into a primary school, on the property.

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Read more at Israel National News

More about: Aliyah, East European Jewry, Synagogues, Vilna


Understanding the Background of the White House Ruling on Anti-Semitism and the Civil Rights Act

Dec. 13 2019

On Wednesday, the president signed an executive order allowing federal officials to extend the protections of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to Jews. (The order, promptly condemned for classifying Jews as a separate nationality, did nothing of the sort.) In 2010, Kenneth Marcus called for precisely such a ruling in the pages of Commentary, citing in particular the Department of Education’s lax response to a series of incidents at the University of California at Irvine, where, among much elase, Jewish property was vandalized and Jewish students were pelted with rocks, called “dirty Jew” and other epithets, and were told, “Jewish students are the plague of mankind.”

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, U.S. Politics